Well, Eli already had a couple moves in his young life and he survived… even liked a few changes. But all of them had been normal stuff; that he could just grit his teeth and get by.
But, never one like this! It beat ’em all……it was downright scary, not to mention the loss of his old neighborhood, his favorite house and super neat room; the big back yard, and his familiar walk to school with his best buddies: Ralph and Luke.
His new home was old, tiny; his bedroom was in the basement, and there was nobody his age as far as eyes could see.
Worse yet, it was located ( get this) at the corner of Pleedunker and Zipstreidel. “Don’t even ask me to spell it, let alone live here”… he told his mom as they relaxed on the porch……too tired to press it any further. Except for her to reassurance; “You’ll love it when we get it all fixed up and you find new friends. My job is the important thing, and it’s a good one.”
Still not ready to surrender to living in this (as he soon found) “German settlement ” he stuck out his lip and glanced down the block to confirm it’s ugliness.
Just then, coming around the corner of Pleedinker (however you spell it) came a little girl in a long lacy-white dress, walking slowly, backwards!….. smiling at them as she juggled three blue tennis balls. Eli nudged his mom with a ” I told ya” roll of his eyes.. Then, her tiny poodle rounded the corner, also walking backwards ….. and holding his leash in his own mouth. What could they say ? They were flabbergasted!
As the day went on, they noticed that everyone in the block…..that is everyone! was doing the same thing… walking backwards.
The two of them moved to the sidewalk and approached an adult couple in purple polka dot shorts, and asked them ” What is this with everybody, walking backwards?” The lady smiled and leaned on her golf club, responding; “We all do this as a community because we looove to see where we have been?”
Eli, amazed, countered with; ” And so, you don’t do forward? They answered sheepishly in unison as if previously prepared : ” Only on escalators”. Little did they know as we we later see.
As if this was just the last surprise, they found approaching them, a teenage boy looking pretty darn normal. He was moving three normal steps forward, then one quick one backwards. Eli questioned; “Now, what are you doing?” His reply was, expecting they were talking about his three steps forward; “I’m Kurt, and I live a few block away… and I have almost given up backward walking, but it is hard to do it completely. Besides I am never in a big hurry.”
Well, that was the weird introduction into the new neighborhood. Within days, Eli had figured he had work to do.. These people had to get real. While in the beginning, he had a very strong urge to walk funny like everyone around him, but he held his ground; walking fast and straight as an arrow…..and absolutely forward.
It was not long before he began talking about forward walking at every opportunity. Yet he knew well that this was not the end of things, There was more; swimming pools only half filled with water. Street lights that came on at noon, and garage doors that opened sideways. And, on and on in more subtle ways.
He had to do something…. He began discussion classes in his side yard. People noticed and began dropping in. First, one found hat he could use his diving board when the pool was completely full. Another found that he could operate the garage door up and down with a motor. He was still working, among other things, on the street light problem.
Now, above all he felt needed in the village. And, it became obvious to all that he was to become an important figure in the community. Ultimately he was elected mayor at the age of 17. At his inauguration his proud mother presented him with a gift of new signs for the corner; “First and Eli Ave”. Down came the old ones.
His Mom, sadly however, had revealed a problem in her trip to the podium; “Her slow progress” She had caught “it”. …… Yes, two steps forward, and one backwards.
Fortunately, treatment had progressed . Dr. Lupenhalter, a local scientist, had by then perfected a cure; 15 minutes, three times a day on the escalator. As a matter fact she’s there now at Macy’s; having logged 6 months, 3 days and 27 minutes. Good thing she’s the Manager.
Eli; looking back, so very pleased with the his often quoted observation;
“Rome was built one forward….. step.. at.. a.. time”
You would agree; “Now, that’s deep!”